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The Siren Song of Technonationalism

Authors: Adam Segal, Maurice R. Greenberg Senior Fellow for China Studies, and David C. Kang, Director, Korean Studies Institute, University of Southern California
March 2006
Far Eastern Economic Review

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“South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk achieved world-wide fame last year when he published a paper claiming to have been the first scientist to create 11 patient-specific stem cell lines. He seemed on the brink of developing genomic technologies that would mark a new era in scientific history. However, in November 2005, allegations surfaced that Mr. Hwang had fabricated his results. After three weeks of furious denials and nonstop public attention in South Korea, he admitted that his breakthroughs were indeed fraudulent.

Mr. Hwang’s rise and fall was all the more humiliating for South Koreans, who had embraced him as a symbol of South Korean pride and made him the object of the kind of public adulation usually reserved for rock stars. Adoring crowds had attended Mr. Hwang’s press conferences. The South Korean government supported his research to the tune of $65 million. The government named Mr. Hwang Korea’s first ‘supreme scientist,’ and even issued postage stamps in his honor.”

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